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Vanity : for tenor and baritone solo, SSAA choir and violin

by Luke Styles (2012)

Work Overview

I began reading some of the Shakespeare sonnets, which I had had an interest in specifically since 2008 when a newspaper article (I can be specific if you like) ran a feature on influential arts practitioners in the UK and their favourite sonnets. Upon reading through the sonnets and thinking about the people I would be writing for a natural duality between men and women began to arise. Also the themes of love, beauty and vanity.

Being surrounded by opera intensively, and also having watched the last series of the Apprentice and seeing men championing male grooming, the notion of male vanity jumped off the page at me. I decided it would be a great opportunity to explore the idea of male vanity, through Shakespeare's sonnets, where the men are the vain ones, unable to see their aging bodies and to speak truth about love. Whereas the women sing the voice of reason, of love and beauty and how both it and we age and grow.

This is the world of my Vanity. Conflict between the projected and reality, moments of beauty, doubt and love.

Work Details

Year: 2012

Instrumentation: Tenor solo, bass solo, SSAA choir, violin.

Duration: 20 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Glyndebourne.

First performance: at Vanity (Glyndebourne's Organ Room) on 19 May 2013

Text taken from Shakespeare's Sonnets 2, 18, 137, 138.


Resonate article: Insight: Macbeth, or how I came to compose operas by Luke Styles

Performances of this work

26 May 2013: at Vanity (Glyndebourne's Organ Room).

24 May 2013: at Vanity (Glyndebourne's Organ Room).

19 May 2013: at Vanity (Glyndebourne's Organ Room).

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